The Sense of Death is a first novel, and while it’s an enjoyable cozy mystery – it shows. There are several things about the styling of the story that I didn’t care for, but in the end Ann’s character was one with which I could sympathize (even if I don’t sense spirits). The place descriptions are good. The premise is intriguing. I liked Ann and her relationship with her brother. I personally am intrigued by the idea of spirits or ghosts and the possibility of communicating with them, and I enjoyed how the author used the idea in the book.
It was very disappointing to have the who-dun-it of the story revealed in the first couple of chapters. Takes the mystery right out of it, takes the suspense away, and almost made me DNF it…but then there were more Ann chapters and I was more interested. A lot of the plot honestly seems very far-fetched, especially in the end. I was constantly reading with one eyebrow raised in skepticism. The plot is also a very common one in murder mysteries, but I guess there are only so many. While the deterioration of the culprit is believable, I didn’t feel the motivation was convincing. Also, there are several chapters AFTER the climatic event, most of which were unnecessary.
The author struggles with POV. Even though it’s written in 3rd person throughout, it’s mostly limited 3rd person with random bits of popping into another minor or even walk-on character’s head. That part was very jolting and annoying.
The old telling vs. showing that interferes with a lot of writing is EXTREMELY present. There are entire chapters of almost nothing but backstory, paragraphs going on and on and Ann’s childhood or past experiences. Don’t just TELL us how she felt, SHOW us! At a few points showing was successfully accomplished, but then it would lapse right back into a monologue of info-dumping and it was just a struggle to read.
All that said, I still enjoyed the book. I’m undecided about whether or not I will read the second one. I was going to rate at 2/5 stars until the climatic chapter, and a certain event that actually brought tears to my eyes.